- Â Daniel, Ladoja throw weight behind Secondus
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Ahead of the 2019 elections, the supremacy battle between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) over the South-west geopolitical zone is heating up, with the main opposition party accusing the ruling party of trying to sow the seeds of discord within the ranks of the PDP in the region, particularly on issues relating to the outcome of its national convention.
The PDP also declared that the people of the South-west were too sophisticated politically to fall prey to the antics of the APC.
The South-west zone was crucial to the victory of the APC in the 2015 elections which swept President Muhammadu Buhari to power.
But the PDP is bent on breaking APCâ€™s current stranglehold on the region, in order to regain power in 2019.
It is believed that the main opposition partyâ€™s desire to make the South-west a swing zone may have informed its decision to ditch its micro-zoning formula, which threw up Mr. Uche Secondus, from the South-south, as the new national chairman of the PDP at its convention last Saturday.
Prior to the convention, the post of chairman had been zoned to the South-west, but some stalwarts believed that PDP would be better positioned to take on the APC if it paired its presidential candidate, which has already been zoned to the North with a running mate from the South-west.
Should Buhari contest the 2019 presidential election, he would most likely do so with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, from the South-west as his running mate, so the thinking in the PDP is that a vice-presidential candidate from the South-west could split the vote in the region.
Continuing, the PDP said that it had observed the â€œfeverish movesâ€ by the APC to create disaffection among its members, distract it, and divert the attention of Nigerians from the colossal failure of its government.
It said the truth was that the APC administration, having wrecked the country, was resorting to shadow boxing to stay afloat.
â€œNigerians are however impatient to kick them out,â€ it added.
In a statement issued Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said having woefully failed to stop its elective national convention, â€œa desperate APC has again failed in another bid to plant seeds of discord within the ranks of our members in the South-west, particularly on issues relating to the outcome of our hugely successful national conventionâ€.
â€œThe South-west is too sophisticated to fall for the gimmicks of the APC. The people cannot be distracted or deceived by baseless propaganda and cheap resort to ethnic politics.
â€œThe South-west will not fail to join other despairing Nigerians in voting out the APC in the 2019 election,â€ it said.
PDP pointed out that the people of the region have seen through the antics of the APC propaganda machine and would not allow themselves to be deceived.
According to the PDP spokesman, the South-west leaders who contested for the PDP chairmanship position were all men of quality and credibility, adding that the fallout of the convention would not in any way diminish their standing as core nationalists and statesmen whose interests, particularly in the PDP and the nation, were not driven by personal or ethnic considerations.
PDP said the people of the South-west are also not immune to the sufferings Nigerians are being subjected to by the current, chaotic state of the economy that the APC administration has inflicted on the nation.
â€œWhat essentially drives the individual and collective aspirations of the South-west leaders in the PDP remains in tandem with the vision of other leaders of our party across the country, which is to rescue our dear nation from the directionless administration of the APC with its attendant economic hardship on Nigerians.
â€œIn fretting, the APC does not seem to realise that people in the South-west are as much victims of its misrule as other Nigerians.
â€œThose in the South-west suffer from the current chaotic state of the economy which the APC administration has inflicted on the nation; they groan from APCâ€™s negative policies on foreign exchange as well as the heavy taxations that are killing industries and businesses; they suffer the misery in the land resulting from the spiralling rate of inflation, decline in the stock market and decayed infrastructure.
â€œThe APCâ€™s attempt to plant seeds of discord among our members in the South-west merely betrays their fears of losing control of the region.
â€œThe APC must note that its exit has become inevitable. They must note that the more they fight the PDP, the more united we become and the more Nigerians see through their deception and emptiness.
â€œToday, many are leaving their ranks in droves. Very soon their party will be empty and its collapse will be loud.
â€œFor the PDP, we remain one big family committed to credible processes that guarantee internal democracy in our party. Our leaders have since revved our internal conflict resolution mechanisms and consultations in this direction are yielding tremendously positive results,â€ the party said.
It asked Nigerians not to despair, adding that the PDP was now repositioned to provide direction and return the nation back to the â€œpath of unity and prosperityâ€.
In affirmation of the PDP stance that its chairmanship aspirants from the South-west had accepted the outcome of the convention, two of them â€“ Rashidi Ladoja and Gbenga Daniel â€“ agreed Thursday to support the emergence of Secondus as the new national chairman of the party.
Speaking during a peace meeting in Lagos with the PDP Reconciliation Committee led by the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, the former Ogun State governor, Daniel, said it was too late for leaders of the PDP of his status to contemplate leaving the party.
In a statement issued Thursday by Dicksonâ€™s media aide, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, the former Ogun governor was quoted as having assured his guests that the PDP in the South-west would do everything to ensure the success of the party in 2019.
Daniel said that while it was true that grievous mistakes and wrong assumptions, which should have been avoided were made, he was experienced enough to know the nature of the struggle for power, which he said was not a â€œtea partyâ€.
Earlier, the committee visited former Oyo State governor, Chief Ladoja, who said that the PDP had a great chance to recapture power in all the states and even at the national level.
He assured the committee that the PDP in the South-west would work in harmony in the overall interest of the party.
Ladoja also said the South-west PDP had accepted the outcome of the convention.
According to him, the convention provided the opportunity for the zone to learn its lesson, as it had realised that it could speak with one voice.
On his part, Dickson said that the party would need the full support of its members in the South-west to effectively execute its plan to capture political power in 2019.
â€œWe are here to discuss the issues that have arisen as a result of the convention. The party holds you, Ogun State and the South-west zone in very high esteem. Moving forward, we will rely on your support and the guidance of leaders like you to succeed.
â€œWe look forward to your active robust participation in the affairs of the PDP going forward,â€ Dickson informed Daniel.